Vocational rehabilitation process
The VR process is employment-oriented and designed to get you back to work in the quickest and most cost-effective way. Attempts will be made to return you to the same employer and same job. If this isn't possible, then the following options will be explored in the order in which they are listed:
- If you cannot return to the same job, then an effort will be made to modify your job so that you can return to the same employer;
- If that is not successful, then an effort will be made to find a different job with your employer;
- If that is not successful, then an effort will be made to find a different job with a different employer;
- If that is not successful, then retraining MAY be undertaken.
Determination of eligibility
The Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation (OEVR) reviews your medical, educational, and employment history. If you are found eligible, OEVR will request that the insurer arrange vocational rehabilitation services for you.
Vocational rehabilitation isn't mandatory, however . . .
However, if you fail to appear for your scheduled mandatory meeting with OEVR, your weekly workers compensation benefits may be suspended until you do appear.
If you are found to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services by the Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation and you don't participate in a vocational rehabilitation program, your weekly compensation may be reduced by 15%.
Settling your claim before determining eligibility for services
If your date of injury is after 1986, you may request vocational rehabilitation within 2 years of approval of your lump sum settlement. See MGL c. 152, § 48(2). Provision of vocational services isn't guaranteed. Actual suitability for services is decided by OEVR.
We don't guarantee a job
No one can offer guarantees. The Regional Rehabilitation Review Officer assigned to your case will oversee progress in your active job search efforts.
The Regional Rehabilitation Review Officer decides whether an employee requires a mechanical device/appliance/artificial eye or limb to restore or continue him/her in industry, MGL c. 152, § 30 paragraph 4.
Payment For Vocational Rehabilitation Services
The workers compensation insurance carrier is required to provide you with vocational rehabilitation services after the Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation (OEVR) finds you eligible. Under certain circumstances, the Workers' Compensation Trust Fund (WCTF) may also be utilized - subject to the approval of the Director of OEVR, and the availability of funds.
What Cannot Be Included in Insurer Settlement
The cost of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (vocational counseling and testing, job seeking, job placement, job modification, etc.) can't be made part of your Lump Sum Settlement. As the Workers' Compensation Statute clearly states, if at any time you decide to settle your case "said agreement [to settle] shall not redeem liability for the payment of medical benefits or vocational benefits with respect to [your] injury." MGL c. 152 § 48(2).
Moreover, "[n]o lump sum settlement shall be reached between an insurer and employee who has been deemed suitable for vocational rehabilitation services by the office of education and vocational rehabilitation who has not completed an approved vocational rehabilitation program . . .. without the expressed written consent of such office." MGL c. 152 §§ 30G, 48(3) "Any employee who receives an amount in violation [i.e. § 48(3) without consent of the office of education and vocational rehabilitation consent], shall have the right to re-open his or her claim for compensation." Id.